Rapid Eye Movement – how does REM sleep affect our well-being?
Although research continues to explore the full significance of REM sleep, most scientists assume that rapid eye movement plays an important role in processing experiences and storing information in our long-term memories. It is clear that sleep disorders regularly compromise these processes in the brain. The consequences are often noticeable in everyday life in the form of stress and anxiety, worry and grief, a lack of ability to take decisions, or even dwindling self-confidence. Our emotional and mental health suffers because REM sleep during the night is where fears are supposed to be overcome, problems solved, new associations created, and stress levels reduced.
Psychologists at the University of California found that REM sleep is also where creativity arises and where imagination can unfold unhindered. Subjects who fell into REM sleep during their lunch break were able to continue word series faster and find analogies more rapidly. Sigmund Freud once hypothesised that dreaming is inherent to the mind´s clearing up and selection process. The fact is that REM sleep is essential for memory formation and our mental and emotional balance. Recently, tests in sleep laboratories have shown that we are noticeably mentally and physically exhausted if our REM sleep is repeatedly cut short.
The Rapid Eye Movement during REM sleep is extremely important for our recovery.
If we fail to fall into REM sleep and thus fail to experience rapid eye movement, this will quickly and directly lead to exhaustion. This can be well observed during drug-induced sleep which has been shown to lack the key switch between the various sleep phases, including REM sleep and its rapid eye movements. Drug-induced sleep is thus more reminiscent of “comatose foggy feeling”. Many people are familiar with the hangover feeling that follows drug-induced sleep.
In addition, if REM sleep is suppressed by the use of pharmaceuticals over a longer period, this results in a noticeably strong deterioration of our general well-being and our ability to perform. If such drugs are later discontinued, a so-called rebound phenomenon can be observed as an expression of the urgent need to catch up on REM sleep.
In short, whoever wants to be mentally and emotionally fit for everyday life and other challenges should make sure to have a balanced night’s rest with plenty of REM sleep. In addition, simulating REM sleep in the waking state through the rapid eye movement stimulation is also highly recommended!